Chapter 4: How to double your salary in 3 years

I’ll be the first one to admit that I hate articles that have the similar title’s as mine. I hate the promises that those articles make.

“How to become a millionaire in a year. Here are the secrets!”
“How to make $10,000 / month in less than 60 days.”

I’m the first one’s to click on those articles, and I almost always leave disappointed. They aren’t realistic goals, nor do I find that they have simple, effective steps on how to get there. They’re promising I can double my income, or that I can increase my salary offers by providing plans that don’t actually work. I hate that I wasted my time even reading them.

So, here is my disclaimer for this article. I know that what I’m about to tell you works really well. When I say this, I really mean it worked really well for me. I’ve seen others in similar situations who have done what I do and recommend, and they are on the same trajectory.

I’m also a firm believer that if it works for me, it can and will work for you. I’m not going to lie, this guide requires a lot of work. But then again, everything worth having requires work and doing something different than you’ve done before.

You should know that I’ve written several articles on being broke.

It sucks.

The worst part about being broke, isn’t the actual broke part. That was fine. The worst part about being broke is that I couldn’t take any risks with my career.

I needed every dollar I can get. So, I couldn’t even take the slightest risk with my career. I couldn’t ask to be transferred to a new department for the fear that something bad might happen and I’ll lose my current job.

I couldn’t negotiate more than I wanted to because I feared that the hiring manager would rescind the offer.

I was stuck.

Luckily, I was able to get out of it and share my tactics.

So, let’s talk about money.

If you make $50,000 a year, I’ll teach you how to get $100,000 in 3 years. If you make $100,000 a year, I’ll teach you how to make $200,000.

Reminder, this is over 3 full years. Not 3 months. I went the realistic approach, because that’s what works. I’m all about what works.

Here is how you do it.

STEP 1: Separate yourself from your current job.

This requires a mind shift. A big mind shift.

You won’t make this happen by relying on your current employer. They won’t teach you the skills, they won’t pay you double within 3 years, and they won’t tell you how to advance your career.

So, get that out of your head. You have to separate yourself from your current job. I’m not saying become a delinquent. I’m just saying that this is not possible if you’re too busy working your ass off at your current job.

But, if you work 60 hours a week consistently, you need to get that down to MAXIMUM 40 hours a week. Read this guide on time management which has been read over 1 million times and one of my most read articles.

How to make this step a reality: Act like an independent consultant

An independent consultant is a person who is self-employed and gets paid by working at other companies on a contract. An independent consultant is unique in the sense that they can work on one client or multiple clients simultaneously, but it’s their responsibility to find clients to work on. If they don’t have a client, they don’t get paid. It’s that simple.

Achieving this goal is a big task and requires a different frame of mind.

Here is what you need to tell yourself:

You are no longer Michael Smith the full-time employee of Acme Corporation. You are now Michael Smith, the independent consultant who was contracted to perform a specific set of activities. Acme Corporation is no longer your full-time employer; it is your client who pays you for every hour that you work.

You have a 6-month contract with Acme Corporation in which they pay you for 40 hours of your time each week. Any time worked outside of these 40 hours must be pre-approved by the client.

Here’s the difference between the full-time employee and the independent consultant.

Michael Smith, full-time employee:

  • Hired to perform one activity, often gets involved in many other activities not specifically related to job function.
  • Jack of all trades, master of none.
  • Expected to work all day and night, including weekends even if the work doesn’t require it.
  • Pay is based on salary, not the value of his services.
  • Attends all required employee meetings, whether they directly pertain to his work or not.
  • Has a secure job for a successful company and doesn’t need to look for next gig.
  • Doesn’t take responsibility for something that went wrong if it wasn’t his fault.

Michael Smith, independent consultant.

  • Hired to perform one activity. Contractually not allowed to work on other work specifically not defined in the Statement of Work (SOW).
  • Master of a specific function; Knows a little bit of everything else, but is known for his specific function skill.
  • Expected to complete the deliverable based on agreed hours in the SOW — If he goes over those hours, it will require more difficult conversations and approvals in the budget to perform those activities.
  • Hourly rate is determined on how valuable his specific skill is and how important his skill is to the organization.
  • Attends few to no company meetings so he can focus on what he was contracted to do
  • Forced to continually look for new gigs and maintain his relationships with other companies to see what opportunities they have coming up.
  • Will stop getting paid once this contract ends, so is always thinking 2 steps ahead and planning for next gig.
  • Takes responsibility for something that went wrong, even if it was the client’s fault. Puts an action plan together to fix the issue and fixes the issue once the plan is approved.

See the difference between the two? They were both hired to do one thing, however one person ends up getting pulled in a million directions while the independent consultant has a clear vision what his job is.

The full-time employee Michael Smith has more stability than the independent consultant. But since he doesn’t have to look for new jobs, he isn’t expanding his network and forming new relationships.

STEP 2: Become a double threat (or more)

I stole this term from Neville Medhora who wrote a great article titled,

The Most Successful People Are a Double Threat (or More)
If you’ve ever complained about “not having a good enough job” or “not making enough money” then pay attention, because I’m about to blow your mind.

And he hit it right on the head.

Big salary increases don’t happen when you become really good at one skill. Big salary increases happen when you become really good at 2 to 3 skills and become a well-rounded employee that can do way more than someone with one skill set.

For example. I’m a writer + marketer + technologist. This means that I can write great content, know how to market it, and be able to use the right platforms online to make sure my content gets distributed far and wide.

For the most part, all of these skills are self-taught. But, can you see the advantage I have over someone who is only a writer? I can also use these skill sets to get executive positions as Director of Marketing because I can combine content, marketing and technology. I’ll beat out any traditional marketer any day of the week.

So, how do you become a double threat?

First off, make sure you read Step #1. You don’t become a double threat by learning on the job. You’re going to learn off the job.

You do this by creating a side project. Creating a side project forces you to learn a new skill. It’s going to force you to meet new people. It’s going to force you to learn email marketing. It’s going to force you to learn social media. It’s going to force you to reach deep into your network to build new relationships.

That’s the power of side projects. It forces you to learn.

I will say this though.

A real and true double threat has a technology or marketing component. I would highly recommend become really good at technology or marketing. These are skills that are used everywhere.

STEP 3: Become The Goto Person In Your Network. AKA: The Super Connector Technique

Let’s play a game.

Of the 4 people in this picture below, which one is the most well connected and most likely to help you?


(Yes, that is me on the left)

Which one did you choose?

It was a trick question! The answer is none of us.

The real person you should be targeting is the moderator….

chapter 4-2

Do you know why?

He’s the person that set up this event and he reached out to all of us individually to attend the panel. He knows all of us. I only knew 1 of the 3!

He’s the person that knows everyone in the industry.

He’s the person that is looking to build his brand by doing these public events.

He’s the person that is very active in the community and always looking to build new relationships so his future events are that much more exciting.

He is the person that knows of all the open opportunities before anyone else! He is on the inside track.

I did the same technique to build my network in Chicago. Here are some examples of how I used the super connector technique:

  • I used the super connector technique to build relationships with the CEO’s of some of the most explosive companies in Chicago.
  • I used the super connector technique to get free office space and insurance paid for.
  • I used the super connector technique to be the first person to know when a hot company is hiring.
  • I used the super connector technique to build relationships with founders & CEO’s of the hottest startups in Chicago.
  • I used the super connector technique to be 1 phone call away from speaking with almost any venture capitalist in Chicago and San Francisco.

I also took 250 coffee meetings in 300 days. I wasn’t messing around.

If you want this to work for you, you don’t need to take 250 coffee meetings, but you really should be consistent with networking.

STEP 4: Interview Like a Mad Man (Or Woman)

Ok, now you’re ready to pull the trigger and get paid more.

I already created an ultimate guide to interviewing, but for this guide I want to expand more on why this step is the most important.

Want to get a gauge of what you’re worth? Not what you might be worth, but what you’re really worth. You do this by getting offers from multiple companies.

The reason I don’t rely on sites like Glassdoor, is because for people with multiple skillsets, it’s hard to reduce them into a single bucket. And the most important thing is what companies are willing to pay for you.

So, this is what I do.

I reach out to my new contacts with whom I built a rapport, and some old colleagues of mine. I ask them for a coffee meeting or a quick phone call. I tell them about my situation and get their thoughts on where I can interview at or what companies might be good fits for me.

I get as much inside intel as I can on who’s hiring and look for referrals into those companies. I’ll also look on websites like and job postings on LinkedIn, but instead of applying to those web sites, I’ll look for the decision maker and look to get a referral or email that person directly. Often times, the email address you need to reach a decision maker is right online. Be thorough in your stalking, and you will reap the benefits.

Persistence and targeting is key. At this stage you should be confident in your skillset and what you can offer. You know your one sentence story for your present, and your future.

Get as many offers as you can. See what you’re worth. Keep repeating steps 1-4 until you get your desired pay and work at a company you enjoy working at. This process is lengthy and requires hard work, and persistence in filtering out what offer, and what situation is going to work best for you.

STEP 5: Get Your Financials Straight

One thing that isn’t talked about much in career advancement is how much money you have in your bank account. A big part of making more money in your career is about taking risks. The more risks you take, the more likely you are to find more opportunities to find higher paying jobs.

However, if you don’t have a lot of money saved up and because of this you can’t take any risks with your career, then you’re back to square one.

Money in the bank is important! Do you know why you get mad at others who got 100% financial support from their parents? You’re mad because that person can take any risks with their career and fail without any repercussion.

There are a few things you can do right now to get your money straight.

  1. Follow You Need a Budget (YNAB) Method. I pay for the software and it’s worth every penny. It changed how I view and budget my money. I would have NEVER been able to plan a 6 month trip to Asia without it. I now have a plan for every single dollar I make.
  2. Watch your fixed costs. Mortgages, rent, car payments, the internet, telephone, etc. The first thing I noticed after I really started budgeting was how much money I was spending on all of these things. Stop the bleeding as soon as possible. Do what you can do to keep these costs to a minimum.
  3. Subscribe to I go to this subreddit at least once a week to see how other budget experts spend their money. Don’t be afraid to create an account and ask an honest question about your financial situation.

In summary, 3 years is a reasonable plan to double your salary.

  1. Separate yourself from your job. Learn how to become an independent consultant within your company
  2. Learn new skills that make you a double or triple threat.
  3. Become a super connector
  4. Interview like a mad man to get an accurate representation of what you’re worth to the market
  5. Get your financials straight. You need to get your money straight to take the appropriate risks for your career.

PS: Read the only resignation letter template you’ll ever need.